James Anderson died on the second day of this New Year. He was 71-years-old at the conclusion of his life. By today's standards his death was premature, but he was younger than his years in every respect. Somehow, despite knowledge of his lifestyle, one expected this colourful and charismatic character to go on forever. The pubs and lounge bars of St Andrews will never be quite the same again without him.
James Anderson may not be a name recognised by many. It may not even be a name known to Arnold Palmer and it would certainly not have been a name known to Tony Lema. As 'Tip' Anderson, however, he was known throughout the golfing world.
Tip was the caddie supreme. He was the doyen of his craft, the caddie against whom all others were compared. He was a legend in his lifetime and he was the last of his kind. Tip's passing ends an era for he was the last of the St Andrews caddies for whom the responsibility of a 'man's bag' was a partnership that endured through 18 holes of golf and not one to be taken lightly.
Nicknames in the caddie ranks are bestowed with some attention to personal quirks and characteristics. Tip inherited his title from his father who was also in the premiership in the caddie ranks. But as well as his title he also inherited a sense of being and worth as well as an attitude. It was an attitude that has seen the traditional St Andrews caddie on the front page of Punch magazine as well as the sports page of every national newspaper for it is part and parcel of their acumen and knowledge of the game and incapacity to suffer fools gladly.
Tip 'partnered' Arnold Palmer to two Open Championship wins and Tony Lema to his singular success in 1964, prior to his untimely death in 1967. Tip's caddying was a partnership in every sense for not only did he play his full part in their success, but he was also well rewarded for his efforts and was fully acknowledged for the contribution he made. It was characteristic of him to belittle any part that he played but Palmer, and especially Lema, was quick to attribute him in the success story. Both Palmer and Lema were charmed by Tip. Lema referred to playing with him as a 'humbling and rewarding experience', while Palmer regarded him as a close personal friend as well as his personal caddie. Few knew that Palmer supported Tip 'till the very end.
Palmer and Tip's partnership endured for over 30 years. They met at the Centenary Open at St Andrews in 1960, one of the most memorable tournaments in the history of the game. Kel Nagle took the title with Palmer in close contention. The swashbuckling figure of Palmer with Tip, decorously two paces behind, is a picture that will be everlasting from this event, as will Palmer's words after its conclusion.
'I blew it,' he said, 'the 17th did for me in every round till the last when I finally took Tip's word on the 5-iron.'
What Palmer was referring to was the fact that he had been on the road behind the green in every round but the last when he played the shot of the week to the green. Arnie has written about it, as have the majority of golf writers since, but Tip could never be drawn on the topic other than to say: 'We played a 4-iron in the first three rounds and a 5 in the last round.'
Tip was at Palmer's side in his triumphs at Birkdale and Troon in '61 and '62 but when the Open returned to St Andrews in '64 Palmer did not because of contractual commercial commitments in the US. It was for this reason that Tip found himself carrying the bag of Palmer's great friend Tony Lema, an equally rough diamond from the Portuguese fishing community of San Francisco. Lema only had time for a couple of practice rounds on the Old Course although it mattered little for the event was played through near gale force winds. But Lema had Tip and he had the confidence and ability to do exactly what Tip told him to do.
Those of us who saw this championship will never forget the guile and excellence of Lema's shot making as well as the sheer joy shared by Tip and Tony with each other's company. Even before the claret jug had been presented, Lema had seen to it that a crate of champagne was available for Tip and his cronies in the Golf Inn bar. Who can forget the badly chorused strains of Al Martino's hit of the day 'Mona Lisa' competing with the loudspeakers from the presentation ceremony. Some wag had spontaneously rewritten the refrain, 'Tony Lema, Tony Lema, Tip has made you'. The revelry continued for much of the night to Lema's clear delight.
Much of Tip's success came from his mere presence. He was never cloying or obsequious. He carried himself with pride and sense of worth. He was a good golfer who had won the St Andrews Boys Championship and had made his own mark on the St Andrews links. He was a golf clubmaker before seeing national service in the Army; to both experiences he attached much worth. In the Army he won the Western Command Championship against a good field. But Tip was the consummate professional caddie, diligent, punctual and always prepared for his man to get the most from his game.
Respectful, courteous and polite, Tip always addressed his man as 'sir' despite invitations to use first name terms. He expected and received the same respect and courtesy in return. Tip never expressed nor ever received a cross word. Palmer, who tried and failed repeatedly to get him to cross the Atlantic, said that he was a 'sea of calm in the storm of an Open Championship.'
It is impossible for me to express the depth of my sadness at Tip's passing. This old grey town will be duller without his familiar figure in trainers and half-mast trousers striding with his ten-to-two gait. His brightly coloured skip cap over his beaming face that glowed brighter as the day aged, brought radiance to the dullest day - just as his pawky wit and penetrating intelligent insight brought a unique life to the links.
James 'Tip' Anderson was born on the 6th of July 1932 and died on 2nd January 2004. We will never see his like again. The game of golf owes him much for his part in maintaining and conveying its core values. May he rest in peace.
|| 12 - JANUARY 2004